Mark and I made several car trips to Seattle this week that were, of course, during rush hour. Strange conversations can come while you are sitting in traffic...
Pondering a situation with people we know and love dearly, we debated about if/how we could help. It is one of the truly difficult parts of being in relationships. On the one hand, we truly want to love and accept these people where they are, as they are, with no judgement or strings attached... On the other hand, we can see how easy it is to settle into old thought patterns or choices and not do the hard work they have told us they want to be about. Hmmmm. Risk saying something? Watch as old self-destructive patterns play out?
Tough stuff really, isn't it? I think this may be one of the toughest conversations we have about community life. When you choose to be involved in a community, you choose, sometimes by default, to have other people "in your business" so to speak. And most everyone I know is carrying the scars of a relationship gone bad. Jesus communities are famous for this. Someone saying something they shouldn't have. Judgement called down. Painful wounds inflicted. Scars carried forever. Someone leaves, sometimes forever.
So we shy away from saying anything. But is that the Jesus way? I really don't know. On the one hand, I believe God is big enough to do whatever work is necessary. On the other hand, my life has been truly blessed (and transformation enhanced) by people I love, who took that very risk and spoke with love the hard stuff to me. I can still name the people and the situations. They called me accountable to who I said I wanted to be, and held a mirror up to me. I loved them, and while I was angry for a while, I knew they were telling me the truth and shining light on something I would rather pretend wasn't there.
But I too have had those other experiences. Where I feel judged, and not enough, and like the yardstick has been placed beside me to show me just how little I am and how far I fall short.
*SIGH and double sigh*
So I don't really have an answer here. I do know, as Jesus followers, we all are to "take on the mind, spirit and attitude of Christ"** and I know that old destructive patterns are not that attitude. So how do we call each other to be all that we are created to be and leave the judgement in the trash outside? How do we love people into kingdom life? How do we heal old hurts and help each other move further and deeper into Christ? How do we balance "being real" with living "transformed" lives?